It’s a Family Thing

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An interesting trend has developed since the pandemic – we have noticed we are all super busy again and headed in a million directions, and parents are more involved in extracurricular activities. It seems at every 4-H meeting since we came back to primarily in-person sessions has had youth with parents as part of their experience. In the past, parent (not all, but most) dropped kids off and ran errands, coming back to pick them up so they could have their own experience. Now parents are involved in their experiences, which is wonderful; however, those experiences were meant for youth exploration and discover. What we saw happening was parents taking over projects, so youth grabbed the nearest electronic device and checked out while their parents did their projects.

Noticing that trend and realizing 4-H can be a great family experience, we have started 4-H Family SPIN Clubs. These experiences are meant for the entire family. In some cases, the family works together on a project and other times everyone has their own project, but it is time together where everyone is working, not on devices, and hopefully communicating and making memories while learning something new. Our 4-H Family Holiday Craft Club is an example of that. Six families registered for this club. Our thought was a gift from the heart that is handmade is truly a gift of time and talent that is appreciated. During our first meeting, we made ornaments three different ways. Some took to one type more than another, and what was great was each family member had a favorite type they made multiples of. Everyone was busy learning, creating, and sharing, which created fun memories.

During our second meeting, one of our 4-H families shared a favorite craft, making ornaments with perler beads. Our youth volunteer taught the youth, and adults learned from the parent. Although we were in one room, adults and youth sat at different tables. What was amazing to me was that the youth often got up to check on their parents progress while the adults were focused on their projects. Everyone had at least one, if not multiple projects to take home, and the youth inspired each other and enjoyed socializing while the adults were focused on their projects. Everyone just had fun.

We announced our last meeting would be this week and everyone was upset. This final meeting focuses on gifts made with food, so mixes they can put in a jar, jams, and even things folks won’t eat, like gingerbread play dough. Our overall goal with this club was to show them how to craft and talk about the cost of crafting (in case they get the bug and want to be entrepreneurial and start their own business), encouraging them to head out to the Very Local Holiday Festival at the Farmers Market on December 2 to see what it takes to sell what you make.

All along we have been talking about more family clubs, and our families love the idea. So next year, we are planning family cooking clubs, a seed club, bee club, animal science, and more. We will still continue just-youth activities and clubs as well, but adding families in just seems like the natural thing to do. So families out there, don’t forget 4-H can be your thing. Come check us out.

For more information, please contact Shea Ann DeJarnette, 4-H Youth Development agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by email at, or visit our website.